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Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival: Day 2

JAPAN | Wednesday, 23 February 2011 | Views [2857] | Comments [4]

Our second day in Sapporo found us at the Snow Festival, the Susukino (Street) Ice Festival, and Ramen Alley.   

The Snow Festival sculptures were breathtaking!  It was amazing to see how detailed they could carve several stories tall snow sculptures.

The security officer said it took an entire month for these "buildings" to be finished.

And no wonder, check out some of that detail!

After several years of sandcastle building with my Daddy, I can tell you firsthand how much work had to go into carving just the stonework along the bottom, let alone all the windows and archways! 

It's challenging to truly capture in photo how amazing these works of art were, but trust us, they were really, really cool!

The fox's eyes looked so real!  They had hollowed out behind the pupil to take advantage of natural shadows.  AMAZING!

By this time, I had turned into a human Popsicle and we were getting hungry.  (As with winter in PA, it doesn't matter how many warm layers I wear or how many hand warmers I shove in my gloves, I get COLD very quickly.)  So we headed over to Sapporo's famous Ramen Alley to get some lunch and warm up a bit.

On the way over, we walked past part of the Susukino Ice Festival.

Yes, those are chainsaws they are using to sculpt the ice.

Some of the sculptures were quite intricate.

This was my personal favorite!  Real seafood frozen in the artwork!  (Sapporo is known for it's beer and seafood, among other things.)

Ramen Alley is quite literally a narrow alley lined with tasty ramen shops.

There are signs outside each one showing what kinds of ramen they serve.

We chose this shop to thaw out my fingers and toes.

As with most ramen shops in Japan, the inside was small but nice.  Four or five tables and a small bar around the kitchen area.  Wouldn't seat many, but there are so many small shops to choose from, I don't think that matters.

The husband and wife were so nice as they prepared our ramen.

And oh boy, was it ever yummy!

The happy customers:

Check out all those signatures of famous people who've eaten there!  There was even a signature board from "The Glen Miller Orchestra Band!"  Pretty neat!

After the delicious lunch, we headed back out on our sci-fi hunt.  They had a fun covered-street market (like we saw in Tokyo and down near Kokusai Street in Naha) where we found some nice antique shops, but alas, no sci-fi.  Brandon did, however, make friends with an impressively large bear.

This would probably be a good time to point out that my wonderful hubby is getting great mileage out of the awesome Stitch hat we found for him at Tokyo Disney last year.  He says it is part of his contribution to diplomacy between the U.S. and Japan.  Everyone LOVES seeing a 6'6" guy wearing a Stitch hat!  Makes everyone smile and laugh!  Chris says it takes a very self-confident individual to be that tall (and thus, stick out significantly in a crowd) and be willing to stick out even more by donning Stitch.  We had a lot of fun watching people's reactions. 

In fact, our favorite part of the trip actually happened by accident.  When we were walking through the Snow Festival, it was quite slippery in places.  After several near-slips, Brandon finally met the ground hard. Fortunately, Chris and I were both right there so we could lend him a hand up.  Unfortunately, both of us were incapacitated with laughter.  As Brandon had fallen, a lady in one of the food booths were were walking next to, yelled, "Stitch fell down!" in Japanese.  It wasn't a "He fell down!" or even a "That guy just fell down."  Nope, it was, "Stitch fell down!"  Yup, poor Brandon was on his own getting back up.  He was laughing as he stood, though.  :)

Back at the Snow Festival, we checked out the section of smaller sculptures.

There was everything from Miffy:

To other Japanese cartoon characters:

Soccer, anyone?

Mr. Potato Head

An interesting interpretation of the 3D movie Avatar (they were literally coming out of the television)

No snow festival would be complete without a VW Van, right?

Since it's the year of the rabbit, there had to be a rabbit...or two...or three.

A sculpture done by some of our U.S. soldiers stationed on mainland at Misawa.

Some slightly more intricate artworks:

My favorite intricate one:

Check out all that detail!!!

And to borrow a quote from Darth Vader:

"Impressive.  Most impressive."

As the day wore on, they put out more sand/gravel to help aid with traction.

There was also another giant sculpture down at this end of the festival.

You can get a bit of a size ratio based on the nearby tree.

And another angle:

Me, outside, loving every inch of the glorious snow!

They get enough snowfall here that many of the bushes and trees have bamboo supports so they don't get crushed or deformed by the snow.

The last section of the festival was full of in-process sculptures from around the world.

It was neat to see their tools and sculpting techniques.

We grabbed dinner at one of the festival food booths. 

So many yummy options!

I was cold enough that we took our kebab sandwiches back to the hotel, but there was a wonderful outdoor seating area with huge flatscreen TV for those less-frozen.

Overall, a another wonderful day!




I would have enjoyed visiting the Ice Festival with the two of you. I hope Stitch recovered quickly after hitting the ground. I think the hat is great. Wonderful photos. Glad you had a good time! xxooxxx

  Dad Smith Feb 23, 2011 10:08 PM


WOWowo what detail I can't believe the patience it took to complete them. How funny the lady said Stitch fell---oh my. So glad you went to the festival and now we can share your trip. How fun!!!! Thank you for sharing. Love you much, Mom

  Mom Carlson Feb 24, 2011 1:38 AM


Thanks for these! I'm enjoying them...now for questions. ;)
How do they start the snow sculptures? I imagine snowplows start a pile, but those tall building sculptures look even higher than a plow can pile? Do they have to carry it up higher?
Do they start with a blueprint of some sort for such a large project? I saw in those last photos for a smaller one, they drew on the outside first, but the magnitude of the big ones boggle my mind!
Did the Glen Miller Orchestra signature have a date? I can't imagine it was the original orch. That couple looked too young to have served them back in the 40's. haha
Hope Stitch didn't get hurt when he fell. I'm sure his pride did, with you two laughing at him! hahahaha (and now me! :D)
Thanks again for taking the time to share this. Looking forward to more.
Love you two. Take care of each other.
~Auntie A

  Amy Feb 24, 2011 5:41 AM


Daddy - Thanks! We're both so glad we got him that hat when we were at Tokyo Disney! It's definitely made us (and a bunch of other people) smile!

Mom - We were so glad to have the opportunity to take this trip! And we're so glad we're able to share it with you all through our photos and stories! Thanks!

Auntie A,
This website http://www.snowfes.com/english/daie/index.html has some great photos of how the huge snow sculptures are created.
I think the signature was from 2002-ish? I'm sure it wasn't the original group. I'm sure there's a story behind who it was, I just have no idea. :)

Love you much,

  abcarlson Mar 5, 2011 10:20 PM

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